One of the emergency blue lights on campus at UTC on April 9, 2018 (photo by Troy Stolt)

By Logan Garrett, Staff Writer –

Nearly 30 years ago, the UTC Police Department along with the Department of Safety
and Risk Management began installing Emergency Blue Light phones around campus, and the project has grown exponentially since then.

There are currently 76 Emergency Blue Light phones throughout the outskirts of campus
and within parking lots and garages. The substantial amount of phones means at almost every Blue Light, there is another one in eyesight.

When anyone presses the call button, they are instantly put into contact with UTC Police
Department and an officer is dispatched to the location of the phone. However, it is
recommended that users do not stay at one phone location if they feel they are in danger.

Despite the drastic increase in the number of Blue Light phones in recent years, the service is not stopping there.

“As soon as we get everything up and running with Facilities in cooperation with Public
Safety and Safety and Risk Management, we will determine the best and most successful
locations for new lights around the McCallie Building,” said UTCPD Operations Lieutenant
John Boe. “They’ll go ahead and bring those online as well when the facility itself is ready.”

The phone service is used two to three times a week, and their uses range from alleged
stalking cases to needing a ride across campus and having car trouble.

Although they are used fairly frequently, according to Bob Jackson, the director of
safety and risk management, only a handful of the calls are for actual emergencies.

“They’re there for the people’s use, and they’re sort of like a fire extinguisher,” said
Jackson. “The number of times someone will use a fire extinguisher is really quite low, but we are definitely not going to take them away just because of a lack of use. It is there for
emergencies and will maintain that as such.”

Similar to a fire extinguisher, the Blue Light phones need to be tested regularly, and
UTCPD as well as the IT Department check the phones once a week and immediately after a malfunction is reported.

The Emergency Blue Light phone service is just one of the many safety and emergency
service offered on campus, and those that would like to learn more can reach out to Bob Jackson at or go to

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